Covent Garden has long been a hub for eating and drinking, and one of the capital’s most energetic quarters. Not so many years ago, much of this was aimed squarely at the tourist crowd, with quality of restaurants varied at best. Not any more. Recent times have seen high-profile global restaurants settle in next to street-food start-ups and Michelin starred marvels.
From the enthralling Barbary and timeless The Ivy, Covent Garden is now the restaurant neighbourhood that has it all.
Here is our pick of the best restaurants in Covent Garden.
Everything from the vibrant medley of European and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes to the bubbling service and interaction with pan-playing, shot-giving chefs is irresistible and unique. It’s a restaurant that dishes out good times and conviviality like some others do baskets of baguette.
The winning formula includes high-end French food with a stellar wine list, slick service, a cosy open fire and a glass roof showing off the starry night sky. Once described by a famous patron as “like eating inside of a fairy tale” Clos Maggiore is an easy contender for most romantic restaurant in London.
The Delaunay is on hand to serve at almost any hour. Breakfast like the Viennese with a spread of smoked ham, salami, artisan gouda, boiled egg and rye bread. Dinner and lunch offer a wealth of Germanically monikered dishes, from four types of schnitzel to five types of würstchen, with a Hungarian goulash for wintry evenings.
The menu at Frenchie Covent Garden echoes its Parisian counterpart with simple flavours and dishes heavily influenced by Greg Marchand’s travels from London to New York through to Spain and Hong Kong. We recommend the Clarence Court egg mimosa topped with shredded black truffle and smoked anchovies laid out neatly on toast buttered with Neal’s Yard salted.
It’s difficult to imagine much improving Hawksmoor’s steaks. Difficult, that is, until you try the anchovy hollandaise – a golden salted elixir for which you could easily skip dessert and consume whole in its place. The meat comes courtesy of The Ginger Pig, the much lauded and certainly very busy butchers, before it enters the hands of Hawksmoor’s god-given grilling skills.
The menu, under the control of Rob Tecwyn, formerly head chef at Dabbous, is, you could say, an ode to joy. Springy, leafy, flowery, herby, grainy, it blossoms with the promise of summer that inspired Schiller’s poem and Beethoven’s music. Start with grilled flatbread — soft, pliable but slightly charred — lavished with garlic butter, topped with “coastal” herbs.
Looking pretty good for 100 years old, The legendary Shepherd’s Pie still commands considerable attention, famed for its so-wrong-but-so-right mix of both lamb and beef mince. The Ivy has of course moved with the times, now sporting an array of considerably un-Edwardian Asian-inspired dishes, from miso blackened salmon to kimchee spiced chicken broth.
The draw has always been the American cooking; steak and cheesecake, the famous Joe Allen hot dog and the arguably even more famous burger – which, you should already know, is always “off menu” and must be asked for. You’re really coming, though, for the magic of it all, from the posters on the walls to the iconic red and white print everywhere.
It is dimly lit, relaxed and sweetly casual, albeit in an efficient manner. It's a place to have up your sleeve for post-theatre suppers, decadent midweek lunches and entertaining friends from out of town who cling faithfully to the West End. It’s a little touristy but, given its setting, upholds a distinct notion of finery.
The concept is simple — to make the most of seasonal British produce, with a particular focus on game, foraged and wild food. The menu is built around seasonality and what wild food is available, but imagine wood pigeon kebab or pan-fried pheasant with fresh cauliflower leaves and confit garlic
This rustic Gallic spot a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square is part wine bar, part restaurant. It serves almost exclusively natural and biodynamic wines – and very good ones at that – alongside hearty snacks, small plates and platters, as well as full meals in its cave-like downstairs dining room. Settle in for the night and make your way through the cheese, charcuterie and vinous offerings.
This is real, fine-dining comfort food: traditional British fare in a tailored dressing gown. They’ve the likes of steak, ale and onion pudding with shallot gravy, Beef Wellington, shrimp cocktail, French onion soup: the stuff that makes you rub your shoulders and go ‘Oooo’ and ‘Mmmm’.
The Denmark Street venue is small, just a few peripheral tables that necessitate backs to the wall with the majority of the 30-odd seats at the bar. We could eat coal-roast aubergine salad and fish sauce wings at least three times a day.
In the New Wing of the iconic Somerset House, there is nothing contrived, tricksy or evasive about these dishes, just an innate understanding of what goes with what: fritti of courgettes flowers with crab and 'nduja, or veal chop with slow cooked peas, Fontodi and sage.
Whatever you do, you’re in for a treat. Adam Handling has cooked up a restaurant that is stylish, buzzy and befitting of a special occasion while remaining resolutely relaxed. As if that wasn’t enough, it just happens to be serving some of the most interesting dishes in town. Theatreland has a new smash hit on its hands.